My 8 Favorite Sandwiches on O‘ahu

Frolic’s sandwich-loving assistant editor Thomas Obungen rounds up his top picks.

 

Perhaps it stems from my dad’s love language. The Frito Lay chip man would pack my lunch on his days off, making me mile-high hoagies with everything we had in the fridge. The perfect main to a side bag of Sun Chips, I always thought. Honolulu may not be known for one signature sandwich in particular, but a handful of sammies have earned a place in my heart. Truth is, sandwiches are always tastier when someone else makes them for you. Here are my favorites, in no particular order:

 

Thomas Favorite Sandwiches Biscuit Sandwich Morning Glass Coffee Credit Thomas Obungen

Photo: Thomas Obungen

Biscuit Sandwich with bacon

Morning Glass Coffee, $12.50

One of my favorite ways to wake up is with a bite of a biscuit sandwich and a sip of coffee from Morning Glass in Mānoa. The prospect of slipping out of bed in the morning isn’t so bad when you’ve got a buttery house-made biscuit cradling an omelet, cheese and crisp bacon with a touch of red onion. Then to back it up with an espresso soda or Cafe de Olla? You might need to pinch yourself to ensure you’re not still dreaming.

2955 E. Mānoa Road, (808) 673-0065, morningglasscoffee.com, @morningglasscoffee

 


 

Castros Cubano Sandwich Maria Burke

Photo: Maria Burke

Cubano

Castro’s Waikīkī, $17.99

Every time I pass Saratoga Road, I think about how much I need a Cubano right at that second. I could be on my way to or from a dinner date and I can’t stop thinking about this sandwich. Pillowy bread cocoons a melty mix of pork, ham, cheese, mustard and pickles in a way that most others don’t. It’s a hearty sandwich, where each half is a full meal, but I somehow find an excuse to eat it in one go. Probably because it’s best enjoyed the moment it leaves the plancha, but also I can’t seem to put it down.

2113 Kalākaua Ave., (808) 630-0480, castrosrestauranthi.com, @castroswaikiki 

 


SEE ALSO: Castro’s Brings Soulful Cuban Food to the Edge of Waikīkī


 

Thomas Favorite Sandwiches Italian Iliili Credit Thomas Obungen

Photo: Thomas Obungen

Italian hoagie

‘Ili‘ili Cash and Carry, $18

Chewy roll. Mayo and mustard. Cold cuts and cheese, stacked. Shredded lettuce dressed with oil and vinegar. Throw some house-made giardiniera on there for good measure. ‘Ili‘ili’s Italian is the Tony Soprano of subs—the one you do not mess with. If I’m in the mood to put down a serious sandwich, I go straight for this, no cap.

2065 S. Beretania St., (808) 367-0606, toasttab.com, @iliili_cash_carry

 


SEE ALSO: Mō‘ili‘ili’s New Pizza and Hoagie Shop Opens on Beretania


 

Earl Philly Cheesesteak Sandwich Pc Maddy Chow

Photo: Maddy Chow

EARL Kaka‘ako

Philly Cheesesteak

It might not always be on the menu, but Justin Parvizimotlagh’s Philly Cheesesteak is simply the best. Swaddled in butcher paper like a newborn, this baby will make anyone who has it need to take a leave. A perfectly warmed hoagie holds craggy, crispy strips of beef slathered in wiz. One bite is enough to send you on an endorphin rush. One sandwich is more than enough to share, but why would you?

400 Keawe St. 102, earlhawaii.square.site, @earlhawaii

 


 

Thomas Favorite Sandwiches Roast Pork Banhmi Credit Thomas Obungen

Photo: Thomas Obungen

Roast pork banh mi

Le’s Banh Mi, $10.25

If there’s one sandwich I cannot live without, it’s Chi Lam and Minh Tuan Le’s banh mi. The one with crispy roasted pork belly to be precise. It’ a study in texture and dimension: The lengths to which Lam and Le go to produce this extraordinary sandwich are unrivaled. It starts with chubby loaves of banh mi, Vietnamese baguettes, notorious for their cloud-like airiness and propensity to massacre the roof of your mouth, baked fresh daily. Fresh mayo, crisp pickles and herbs and succulent cubes of roast pork with crispy-crackling skin attached are layered in. I always want two, because the separation anxiety that overcomes me when I finish the first one is too much to bear.

808 Sheridan St. Suite 306B, (808) 227-3066, @les_banhmi

 


SEE ALSO: Legit Banh Mi Lands on Top Floor of 808 Center in Honolulu


 

Thomas Favorite Sandwiches Bolognese Bocconcino Credit Thomas Obungen

Photo: Thomas Obungen

Bolognese panini

Bocconcino, $18

When Donato Loperfido first made this sandwich for me, I took one bite and after a moment of silence, told him, “This is ****ed up delicious.” Pardon my Italian, but that was my honest reaction. Loperfido takes a slab of his schiacciata, an airy, focaccia-like bread, and layers thin whispers of mortadella (bologna) on one side. The other side gets slathered with pistachio crema, crushed pistachios, house-made stracciatella cheese and lashings of Dragotto olive oil. Others have cried at how scant the ingredients are, but I beg to differ. The Bolognese is more than worth its price.

978 Kawaiaha‘o St., (808) 778-0672, @bocconcinohawaii

 


SEE ALSO: Donato’s Fresh Cheese-Centric Bocconcino Café Opens in Kaka‘ako


 

Thomas Favorite Sandwiches Tonkatsu Sando Coco Bloom Kitchen

Photo: Thomas Obungen

Tonkatsu sando

Coco Bloom Kitchen, $11

When it comes to Coco Bloom Kitchen’s tonkatsu sando, I can only think about its insane bread-to-katsu ratio. It has to be close to 1:3. You think I’m exaggerating? Eat one of these thick boys and tell me it’s not. Dijon mustard and sweet katsu sauce lift the tender pork, which contrasts well with the lightly toasted La Tour milk bread. Despite its heft, this is one of the healthier tonkatsu sandos around.

3221 Wai‘alae Ave. Suite A-3, cafe.coco-bloom.com, @cocobloomkitchen

 


SEE ALSO: Katsu Sandwiches and Burgers Headline a Healthy Menu at Coco Bloom Kitchen—Really


 

Foodie Field Trip Eightychickensandwiches Credit Thomas Obungen

Photo: Thomas Obungen

Buttermilk Fried Chicken Sandwich

Eighty Chicken Sandwiches, $17

Most of the week, Adam Wade is a stay-at-home dad. On weekends he hawks fried chicken sandwiches from a trailer in Kahuku. And once he sells his eightieth sandwich, often around 2 p.m., he’s done for the day. With just one menu item, Wade zeroes in on perfection. Seriously, these chicken sandwiches are the best we’ve put our beaks on, especially when paired with Wade’s ethereally brown triple-fried french fries. It’s a weekend must if you’re playing on the North Shore.

56-505 Kamehameha Hwy, @eightychickensandwiches

 


SEE ALSO: Roll With It: Eighty Chicken Sandwiches Is a Cult Sensation in Kahuku